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Environmentalist misinformation in a beautiful package
First of all, I would like to urge everybody who has seen this series to research and confirm and / or dis-confirm ALL the information that this anime gave you for yourself. Use Wikipedia, and Google, and ask questions in discussion boards. A lot of the "scientific" information in this anime is merely opinion, and should be treated as questions, and parts of the plot, rather than any kind of scientific fact.
I really liked the visual style of this anime. Unlike most of the reviewers, I liked it throughout the series. There is a very interesting mix of hand-drawn animation, computer graphics, collage and live-action video. Although the animation could be better, the characters are drawn and designed in an appealing way, most of the time (especially the supernatural incarnations), and the backgrounds are very beautifully detailed. The aspect of this anime that I personally found the most beautiful was the music - I didn't even know it was composed by Yoko Kanno until I watched the whole series and looked it up, but I love her soundtracks and this one is very special, and one to remember. There are a lot of vocal tracks, and almost no lyrics, and the styles are nicely varied throughout.
What I personally didn't like about this anime, thought, is that it's religious propaganda in 13 colorful episodes. The plot development is centered around the growth of the environmental awareness of the main protagonist. Every episode introduces a new aspect of how people are destroying their world, according to the makers of this show. I am afraid that many viewers might take a lot of the information in this anime as fact, or close to fact, instead of fantasy. It works well as fantasy - there is a simplistic concept of evil, which is made flesh and presented as the antagonist of the show, a material slug-like monster referred to as "Raaja" (Japanese has no grammatical plural, so the Raja might as well be one single entity). Pollution is Raaja. Misunderstanding, argument, and the misleading openness of verbal communication is Raaja. Non-individuality is Raaja, the meat industry is Raaja, and abortion is Raaja. Juna, the protagonist of the show, has to learn how to confront the Raaja and thus save humanity, before it is too late. The problem with this show is that it offers many descriptions of pseudo-facts about the world, like: if you're really sick, you should ingest a drink made from dried human umbilical cord, which will instantly replenish your depleted store of benign bacteria and cure you; almost all diseases require no medication; bugs only eat specific parts of plants, in order to preserve the general equilibrium of the ecosystem; having sex while pregnant amounts to raping the baby (yes, there is actually something akin to a baby-rape scene in the show); pesticides are gases used in military warfare - and so forth. At times, this made me want to choke the show.
You can't choke a show, and you can't treat such information literally
assuming that the anime is not a latent introduction to Scientology,
with which it seems to share a very basic metaphysical message, it is possible to assume that the authors wanted to place such outrageous hyperboles, gross oversimplifications, and plain personal opinions, into the show, in order to make the audience care about their decisions and the environment a lot more, because it's for an outrageous, impossible, yet striking image or fact to guide one's actions, than level-headed scientific information. But I just could not stand the way most of that could have been conceived as real-world fact. It really hurt the show, in my opinion, because instead of being a fantasy anime with environmental themes, it turned into propaganda in nice images.
One of the reviewers mentioned Ghibli's "Princess Mononoke", one of my favorite movies of all time. That is also a fantasy anime, with a strong environmental theme, but it manages to keep that theme in the bounds of fantasy, and works great like that, in my opinion (even imparting one with interesting insight into the potential plight of the environment). Earth Girl Arjuna is really disappointing in that respect. I have been a vegetarian (and on/off vegan) for the last 10 years, and I recycle, and save electricity and water, and I think that anime is plain misinformed. A number of changes could have turned it into a fantasy anime with an environmental theme, but here the focus is so much on propaganda and extreme simplification that I lost my suspension of disbelief. Instead of raising questions and awareness, it raises concern and, at worst, a religious-like belief. I can understand what the idea was, but as a thinking person I feel offended. A nice package, though.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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